In becoming relevant, our challenge is to preserve our personal artistic vision/passion while also figuring out how to meet a real community need, serve a clear purpose. I can describe that challenge with a simple Venn diagram:
One circle represents My Needs. The other circle represents Their Needs, meaning the community's needs. The sweet spot is the overlap between My Needs and Their Needs. Being able to identify what activities or programming could be contained within that overlap is the key to creating something that is both meaningful and sustainable.
This makes me think of Maxine Greene, the great American philosopher of education who died in 2014 leaving an important legacy for artists and arts educators through her writing and teaching. I'm using an excerpt of her writing to catalyze a conversation about the significance of aesthetic education as a way of thinking about the potential relevance of artists in a community. Maxine argues that people can find "openings" through art, that ordinary citizens can become "wide awake" through encounters with art. In Texts and Margins, a chapter from her influential book, Releasing the Imagination, Maxine ends by requesting that we, as a society, seek out "more explorations, more adventures into meaning, more active and uneasy participation in the human community's unending quest."
What would Maxine say about my Venn diagram?
Sharing student project documentation and, more recently, my own.